DVD Review: "Aleksandr’s Price"

DVD Review:
“Aleksandr’s Price”

The omnipresent yet mostly underground world of prostitution has been revisited again and again in both American and world cinema through the decades– and it’s no mystery why.  It has always been, and will likely always be, a seductive subject: the perfectly titillating mix of sex and psychodrama.  Despite this, the subject of male prostitutes (AKA rentboys or hustlers) has been largely under-explored in the media, even though there are no doubt many provocative stories aching to be told.  The titular character of Pau Maso’s heartfelt, often disturbing drama “Aleksandr’s Price” is a young Russian gay immigrant who, after tragic family circumstances, finds himself alone and selling his body for money in New York City.  It may not come as a surprise that Aleksandr’s story is not going to be a happy one… and director/star Maso (He wrote, edited, and directed the movie, and stars as Aleksandr.) intends to show just HOW unhappy the story can get.  It’s NOT a glamorous or sexy life– and like others who preceded our character, our protagonist finds that the price for bartering with his sexuality is more than he can afford.

“Aleksandr’s Price” is pretty much a one-man show, with Pau Maso as Aleksandr appearing in almost every scene.  He bares his body, but shows far more of his soul in his bold performance.  Telling his story in flashback to a counselor, we learn how Maso’s Aleksandr found himself in his situation.  In need of money, a well-meaning female friend (Samantha Glovin) innocently directs him to a club promoter looking for dancers. (When his counselor asks him, “What kind of dancing are we talking about?”, Aleksandr answers in his deadpan style and heavily accented voice: “The type that requires your clothes off.” )  Go-go dancing at the disco and finding success– no doubt due to his unblemished, youthful charm– Aleksandr is soon picked up by a gruff, no-nonsense guy (Josh Berresford) who mistakenly thinks that he is a rentboy– and pays him a huge sum of money.  This event becomes something of the main character’s  “point of no return”.  Like his first foray into sex for money, Aleksandr’s virginal baptism into drug abuse also comes quite accidentally.  But soon, the ingredients of prostitution, drugs, loneliness, and a hunger for human connection lead the naive young man into a complex stew of emotional instability which borders on a schism from reality.

“Aleksandr’s Price” is not just another “reinventing the wheel” morality story about a male hooker.  At times the viewer may question why Aleksandr can’t just, well… STOP what he’s doing.  We wonder why he doesn’t seek help from other Russian immigrants (of which there are many in New York City).  We also wonder why he rejects the opportunities of salvation that arise in the film– such as his kindly, older new friend Tom (Keith Dougherty).  At at times the viewer may also ponder just how much torment and humiliation the filmmakers will put the main character will go through in this “after midnight”, adults-only subculture of New York City.  However, through more-than-credible acting by Maso and an unblinking look at the subject matter, we believe every minute of it.  As a result, the final scene– the event that will likely throw Aleksandr over the edge– is one of the most shocking ever seen on film that you’re likely to see anytime soon.  Again, given the expert acting and drive for realism, we DO believe it… whether or not we want to.

The movie is bolstered by real-life New York City locations and a real “feel” for life in the so-called Naked City.  As those who live there will attest, there’s a whole world that goes on “after dark”, behind the daylit scenes of coffee shops, skyscrapers, and snowy walks through the park in winter.  The director also replicates that feeling of how, even in a big and crowded city like New York, we ALWAYS bump into people we know– for better or, in Aleksandr’s case, for worse.

“Aleksandr’s Price” is now available on DVD.  Visit http://www.BreakingGlassPictures.com for more info!

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